My new hobby?
My fella was away in Ireland on an annual teaching thing that he does. He'd taken the car with him so he could stay in some isloated cottage in the countryside and look at stars through his telescope without having light pollution. He's very good at "hobbies". I don't really have the personality for them. I always dropped out of university hobby societies after the second week. The people in them tend to talk obsessively about that one thing they're doing (photography, being LGBT etc).
But after five days of just talking to the cat (who does his best but isn't as witty as my fella), I was getting a bit (stir) crazy, so accepted an offer from a friend to go bell-ringing. I live about a minute's walk away from the local church, and know a couple of people who do it.
My friend is a "key-holder" to the local church, and he picked me up early so he could show me around. Have you ever been in a deserted church at night-time when there are no lights on? I kept expecting Evette Fielding to jump out at me while screaming about ghosts. We climbed a windy staircase then went up a ladder, then another staircase, then another ladder until we were in the bell tower, and I saw my home town from a different perspective. I don't know why the church doesn't get a lift fitted and then they could charge people a fiver to go up there and look at the view.
But just as I was enjoying things, the bells all chimed bong at once, and I practically fell over. Then the other bell-ringers started to arrive. There were two distinct groups - the experts, who were mainly men in their 50s and 60s with beards and not a lot of conversation. And the beginniners, who were mainly women and younger men, some of whom were in a state of anxiety about bell ringing.
Because I learnt it is very complicated. It's not just a matter of pulling a rope willy-nilly. The ropes have to be pulled in various complicated sequences. And also (and I probably understood this wrong), first, the ropes had to be pulled in a certain way so that the bells were all upside down, balancing precariously the wrong way round. This was called "bringing the bells up". Each round of bell ringing had to end with them being upside down, and this could be difficult to acheive as you had to give the rope exactly the right amount of pull. One poor woman couldn't get it and she was stuck there for ages, trying and trying.
I had a brief lesson from the Head bell ringer. I am not a quick learner, and I often confuse left and right if I'm in company, so I looked like an idiot when he said things like "grip the rope with your left hand as high up as you can and then put your right hand above the left". He had to say it about ten times before I even got that bit right. Then I had to pull the rope. And not look up. "You're doing it too hard" he said on the first two goes. Then I either got it right, or he gave up.
My friend said afterwards that I seemed to be picking it up more quickly than everyone else he'd seen. But I think he was just being kind.
I don't know if I'll do it again. Someone told me about a beginner's class at another place, and I was invited to go along. Do I have the personality for a hobby though? And does it matter that I'm a screaming atheist? I think they kept the believing in God thing a bit on the DL, but I noticed that the one good-looking man there had a Christian fish tattoo on his wrist. I'm sure they won't mind me being gay (apparently the vicar is gay too), but being a filthy heathen? I'm not so sure.